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Fermented foods in Japanese cuisine: benefits and uses

Fermented foods have a special place in Japanese cuisine, being an integral part of the traditional diet and cultural heritage. Fermentation is the process of converting organic matter using microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast and fungi. This method of preserving food not only extends its shelf life, but also significantly improves its flavour and nutritional value. In this article, we will look at the most popular fermented foods in Japanese cuisine, their health benefits and how they can be used in cooking.

1. Miso

Miso is a paste made from fermented soybeans, salt and koji mushrooms. There are several types of miso, varying in colour and flavour: white miso (siramiso), red miso (akamiso) and mixed miso (avasemiso).

Health benefits: Rich in protein, vitamins and minerals. Contains probiotics to help improve digestion and boost the immune system. The antioxidants in miso help fight free radicals and slow down the ageing process.

Uses: The main ingredient for making miso soup. Used in sauces, marinades and salad dressings. Added to various dishes to enhance the umami flavor.

2. Soy sauce

Soy sauce is a liquid product made by fermenting soybeans, wheat, salt and water. Two types of soy sauce are most popular in Japan: light (usukutti) and dark (koikutti).

Health benefits: Contains antioxidants and amino acids. Has antibacterial properties. Helps to regulate blood sugar levels.

Uses: Used as a condiment for a variety of dishes from sushi to vegetable salads, used in marinades for meat and fish, base for many sauces and soups.

3. Natto

Natto is a fermented soy beans with a distinctive smell and viscous texture. Natto is fermented using the bacterium Bacillus subtilis.

Health benefits: High in probiotics, which improve gut health. Rich in vitamin K2, which helps to strengthen bones and the cardiovascular system. Contains the enzyme nattokinase, which thins the blood and prevents thrombosis.

Uses: Most commonly eaten pure, added to cooked rice. Used in salads, soups and omelets. Added to sauces and dressings.

4. Tsukemono

Tsukemono is a generic term for pickled vegetables fermented with salt, rice vinegar, sake and other ingredients. The most popular types of tsukemono include takuan (pickled radish), umeboshi (pickled plum) and kuri tsuke (pickled cucumber).

Health benefits: Contains probiotics to help improve digestion. Rich in fiber and vitamins. Helps detoxify the body.

Uses: Served as a side dish to main dishes. Use as a topping for sushi and ongiri. Add to salads and snacks.

5. Japanese Vinegar

Japanese vinegar (su) is made by fermenting rice, sake or other grains. Rice vinegar is the most popular and is used in a variety of culinary processes.

Health benefits: Contains amino acids that help detoxify the body. Helps improve digestion. Has antiseptic properties.

Uses: Main ingredient in sushi rice. Used in marinades for fish and meat. Used in sauces and dressings.

Fermented foods play an important role in Japanese cuisine, not only for their unique flavors, but also for their significant health benefits. They are rich in probiotics, vitamins and antioxidants, which help to improve digestion, strengthen the immune system and improve overall health. By incorporating fermented foods into your daily diet, you can enjoy authentic Japanese dishes and keep your health at a high level.


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